WORDS GRACEY MAE PHOTOGRAPHY GODWIN MOORE- CONTRIBUTING FEATURES EDITOR JEN ELECTO
Afro pop sensation Joeboy has come a long way from the day he posted a cover of an Ed Sheeran song on his Instagram, prompting Mr Eazi to reach out and encourage the Nigerian singer to break into the industry. And break through he did - with 1.4 million followers and a fanbase desperate to see the singer perform live again, Joeboy has a lot to be proud of. It takes a certain kind of person to handle accumulating such fame at such a rapid speed. How does he manage to keep levelheaded? The answer for Joeboy is love. Spend five minutes with him and you'll see that is focus on pure love is what guides him through the good and the bad. Gracey Mae sits down to chat to him about his journey.
Gracey Mae: Welcome to the F Word Joeboy! Joeboy pon deck, how are you today?
Joeboy: I’m good. I'm good. Thanks for having me. As always, thank you for the support.
GM: You know I love you. We know you as a singer, songwriter… a young legend who loves his craft. Away from the spotlight, I know you to be a guy who's kind of introverted, a guy who prefers house parties to the club. A guy who likes to read love novels and literature...
J: Yeah. You know!
GM: A guy who has his voice notes filled with choruses. A guy who has a collection with over 30 sneakers.
J: It’s more than that. We’re heading to more like 60 now.
GM: Mad o! In your documentary, ‘Becoming the African Pop Star’ you ask yourself, “Who is the real Joeboy?” Have you got that answer now?
J: Um, yeah, I think I'm almost there. Almost there. You know, life is all about finding yourself. So yeah, I'm almost there. So Joeboy is calm. I think that may never change. There might be a little crazy in there once in a while but basically Joeboy is calm, Joeboy appreciates music, Joeboy loves love, Joeboy likes women a lot. And Joeboy is an amazing artist.
GM: In the same documentary, you mentioned that you are always a free spirit and that when you really tapped into your confidence, that was a game changer for you. So at what point did you realise that you had evolved into your tag the ‘Young Legend’?
J: I think it was after my EP 'Love and Light' dropped and I had like four out of the five songs from my EP on Top 10 in Nigeria. In Nigeria!!! Nigeria is like really competitive – there are a lot of amazing artists. So the EP to have four songs on top 10 at a particular point so early in my career was such a big deal for me. I realised I'm young and I'm doing legendary stuff so…
GM: Love it! You’ve just got ‘Young Legend’ tattooed on your wrist. I'm also seeing a ‘Young Legend’ logo on the documentary so is there anything you're trying to tell us? Is this some kind of label?
J: The word ‘label’ makes it sound too serious. You know, it’s just like a movement - just like something I represent. It’s something that I believe is going to be really, really monumental in my career. It’s gonna be like a source for good things for me. ‘Young Legend’ is like a movement so I intend to start supporting young artists after my album so it’s just like a platform or like a brand that supports young, amazing people. You don't necessarily have to be an artist. It could just be a creative person – it could be videographer. It could be a photographer. Anything that involves creating, ‘Young Legend’ supports that. There’s so many amazingly talented people that have no platform or support and you know Nigeria is a really really tough place sometimes. Dreams can die! So I’m just trying to like make sure I help a bunch of people achieve their dreams too – to an extent.
GM: Cultivating a generation of new talent – sounds like a ‘Young Legend’ to me. This title comes with a lot of weight - how do you deal with that pressure? At this stage, you're kind of competing with yourself.
J: Basically, how I deal with pressure is I make sure I put in my best work. I’m always open to learning, I'm always open to changing my ideas. If I feel something would work better, I'll definitely try to change it. Like my album art cover, I had to change it like three times. I just felt like “Ah! Maybe I can add something. Maybe I can make it more this, and more that”. I asked people like “Yo! Do you think I should change the artwork?” and they were like “yeah, you should!” So I'm always open to learning. I'm not stubborn creatively. Anybody can tell me what works for me and I'll definitely do it. So yeah, no pressure, no pressure. I just do my thing and make sure I have fun alongside. I have my fans, I cater to my fans, and that's one of the most important things - so as long as you have your fans, no pressure!
GM: The Joeboy Tribe is strong! Now since we're talking about the album, let’s introduce our readers to ‘Somewhere between Beauty and Magic’. Now you first tweeted the title of your project on the 28th of January 2020 with three photos of you quad biking. Then you posted the same title via Facebook on the 28th of September 2020. So how long has this been in the works?
J: Last year was like super tough and crazy for almost everyone, and at the time I tweeted ‘Somewhere between Beauty and Magic’ the album was like 80% ready. I was like “Okay, March…April, I'll put out the album” but a lot came up. The lockdown… then some delays, then having to replace some songs, then me feeling like “ah! It wasn’t enough yet” and I’ll start the recording company again. I didn’t realise that the more I kept recording songs, the album was changing. So I said “okay, I was gonna put it out in September”… some more delays again. I pushed it to October, then #ENDSARS came up. I just didn't feel like it was the right time to put out the project. I just did not feel like it – I was like “Yo! Let’s just start it in the new year” and let’s see how it goes. So I'm super glad that in a couple of days ‘Somewhere between Beauty and Magic’ drops! I am so super super excited. I played the album for Olamide yesterday - as in Olamide Baddo - and he was glad, he was like “yo, this is going to pop!”. That coming from a legend that has been in the game for more than 10 years actually gave me too much confidence and ginger! Yeah, so it's a beautiful album. I can’t wait. I can't wait for people to listen to it. It's been a crazy process and I’ve put in a lot of work. I've spent a lot of money! [Laughs]. But I’m super sure it’s going to be worth it at the end of the day. It’s going to be a life changing project for me and everybody involved.
GM: Ey! It’s Olamide certified. I think I saw him share a screenshot of your album on his Instagram story!
J: Yeah, I was with him for like almost an hour yesterday - just talking, and he was praying for me. He is a really amazing person by the way!
GM: Now that's sick. What is the title of your album even mean? I read online that you said ‘Somewhere between Beauty and Magic’ means love. Is that true?
J: Yeah. So you know, love is beautiful. Love is magical. You know what that represents like on a general scale? It’s this Loverboy kind of thing. So I felt like “okay, it's almost February. It’s close to Valentine's. Love is in the air”…and love is a beautiful thing actually so I’m like “yo! I want to make a bunch of songs that…”. Not all the songs on the album are love songs by the way… but it’s either love for somebody, love for the good things of life or love for yourself. Still all love, and I decided that love… Love is beautiful and magical. My music consists of a lot of love examples so… ‘Somewhere between Beauty and Magic’.
GM: I love it. I'm getting it. I'm with you. A couple months ago, you tweeted that you were in love. Then I saw you did an interview where you said that you were in love with a Ghanaian babe.
J: Oh! I said I think I'm in love.
GM: Oh, sorry! Point of correction.
J: Mm hmm.
GM: Then I found a freestyle on YouTube from the summer, where you were singing about a sugar mama who doesn't like any drama. So the question the ladies want to know is, is your sugar mama this Ghanaian babe that you think you're in love with?
J: There’s a lot of people! There’s a lot. A lot! [Laughs]
GM: [Laughs] Say no more fam. Say no more! The last time I saw you face to face was in Ghana at Detty Rave 2019. With everything that’s happening, do you miss performing?
J: Oh yeah, I have… but the thing is I've kind of been performing through. I’ve been doing some private gatherings and things with like not too many people. It's not as relatable as the major shows but yeah, I miss it. I miss it. I miss the real thing. I miss… I miss performing to like thousands of people all packed up. Waving and stuff with no fear of Corona or anything. Yeah, cos everybody’s being careful now – which is right anyways. We all have to stay safe. Hopefully this passes away. It's almost like it’s a normal thing but I don’t want it to be our new normal.
GM: You’re so right! It's been a crazy year. We've touched on #EndSARS and Corona. Do you have any words of encouragement for any of our readers?
J: It’s really difficult times but take time out to do things you love cos time waits for nobody. Take time out to do the things your love. If you love video games, play video games. If you love somebody, tell them you love them. Don’t waste time. Stop being a hard guy! Express that love from your body. If you love somebody, let it out! The worse the person will say is no. Do your thing. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you feel alive. What else? Stay strong, stay strong. If you're feeling down, talk to someone you trust. Just do fun things man, and enjoy life…enjoy your life! Life's too short and stop putting too much pressure on yourself. Do not put too much pressure on yourself. See the way I am right now, I'm just doing my thing. I'm just vibing. Just vibing! Because I know that problem no dey finish. Keep it going.
GM: You had arguably one of the biggest songs of 2020 with DJ Neptune and Mr Eazi – ‘Nobody’ was a smash hit. In the lyrics you say “I don't want to see you with nobody” so are you a jealous guy?
J: Oh, somewhat. I believe if you really love someone, there will be a bit of jealousy. Healthy jealousy. Not jealousy that will let you go and murder somebody [laughs] but you know that person is for you, and you’re for that person, you don’t want to see them with somebody else.
GM: Fair enough. Now bringing it back to the forthcoming album. It drops on 4 Feb 2021 and I’m sure we’ll see tons of romantic themes like jealousy across the 14 tracks. What else can we look forward to on the project?
J: Yo! Bangers and bangers and bangers from track one. You will know that it’s not a joke! I said it from track one, you will not that – okay this is not a game. It is real. From track one, track two, everything is amazing. Like I said, I really can’t wait for people to actually listen to it. Yeah, so bangers… different songs. You get to understand what Joeboy is on at the moment.
GM: Fun fact, the #SBBM for your album ‘Somewhere between Beauty and Magic’ share the same acronym with a few Other Phrases. We've Got:
1. Small Budget Big Makeover
2. Super Blue Blood Moon
3. Standard Big Bang Model
4. Sea Based Ballistic Missile
5. Shea Body Butter Melts
6. Soft, Bad Block Management
Out of all of them, which describes the album best?
J: Heeey! I think it's…something…something ballistic missile.
GM: Sea Based Ballistic Missile
J: That one! Cos I’ve only got bangers like pew pew pew pew! I’m ‘bout to scatter…
GM: Gbas Gbos! If we want if we want to find you online. Where can we go?
J: Yeah, connect with me. On Twitter and Instagram, it’s @joeboyofficial. On TikTok, it’s @joeboyofficial! On Snapchat That’s my most fun place right now! It’s @joeboypondeck. Just type the thing! It’s right there. If you want to see me finish, or connect me on more… very, very personal personal level, Snapchat is the place to be.
GM: Last question! Thank you so much for coming to F Word, What is your favourite F word?
J: Hmmm. If I talk am…I no go talk am! My favourite is fantastic. My album is fantastic. You are fantastic. F Word Magazine is fantastic. Blessings to you! [laughs]